With four games remaining we need just four more points to be mathematically certain of the 2010/2011 Liga title. And that means that if Real Madrid fail to beat Sevilla tonight then we can be champions tomorrow if we beat Espanyol at Camp Nou. Of course the sooner we get the league in the bag the sooner we can concentrate fully on the Champions League Final against Manchester United at Wembley on May 28. However, although I imagine Pep Guardiola will put out a very strong team tomorrow he will surely already be thinking in which players need a rest and which players need more minutes with the aim of having everybody in the best possible condition in three weeks. He probably has in mind his best eleven for Wembley and team selection from now on will reflect that. I’m sure, for example, that once the league is sure then we will see either Oier Olazábal or Ruben Miño in goal in order to gain a little more experience now that Pinto has received a three -match ban for his half time antics at the Barnabeu. For tomorrow it will depend on how well we have recovered from the Madrid games but I won’t be surprised if Puyol is rested again, Adriano, Maxwell and Milito probably won’t make it in time though there is a chance that Bojan will be back in the squad. We need to get some practice for our back-up strikers and I’m especially hoping we get to see a lot of Ibrahim Afellay in the final league games as he could end up being a vital sub at Wembley as he proved to be at the Bernabeu.
Espanyol will be keen to gain revenge for the 1-5 home defeat to Barça in December but their current form is not good. Since winning at Getafe in January they have only one draw and five defeats from their travels while and they have only taken 11 points from a total of 14 games in that time. This run has seen them slip down to eighth place and they really need to take something from tomorrow’s game to keep alive a slim chance of playing in Europe next season. I don’t know why but I have a sneaky feeling they may just scrape a draw.
Possible starting XI: Valdés; Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Abidal; Xavi, Busquets, Keita; Pedro, Messi, Afellay.
My prediction: Barça 2 Espanyol 2